Who is in the photo at right?
I'm Eileen Cook, the one being licked to death on the left; my unable-to-hold-his-licker companion is Cairo. I'm a novelist who writes mostly young adult novels because I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Cairo is our "dorky." The vet's best guess is that he's a mix of a dachshund and yorkie. He's five and proof that while you may get older, you don't necessarily mature.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Cairo and I are celebrating that my new book, Year of Mistaken Discoveries, is out on February 25th. You can tell we're celebrating because normally we kick back with a cup of tea, but I rarely am dressed up, One of the benefits of being a writer is that your work clothes are mostly yoga pants and pyjama tops.
I am a huge tea nut. I must be secretly British. I am addicted to a Canadian company called Davids Teas. Today's was their coco-chai, a nice spicy chai with a touch of coconut.
Any treats for you or Cairo on this occasion?
It's possible that some roast beef was placed in our favorite NYC Public Library mug in order to get Cairo interested in participating in the photo shoot.
How were you and Cairo united?
I've always had dogs. When my Scottish terrier, Kahlua, passed away at first I didn't think I could love another dog, but then I discovered there might be room in my heart for another. There was an advertisement that there were some dogs in need of loving forever homes. Cairo was the product of some type of illicit love affair, his mother wasn't talking about who the possible father might be. He needed a home and it turned out we needed him too. When we went to see him the first time I kept insisting that I wasn't there to pick out a dog. I was simply looking. I'm including a puppy photo so you can see how irresistible he was. I didn't stand a chance when I saw those brown eyes.
How did Cairo get his name? Any aliases?
My husband and I are both fans of old movies. Our local theatre does classic films on the big screen. The week we found Mr. Cairo, we'd seen The Maltese Falcon. There is a character in that movie, Joel Cairo, who is this tiny guy who thinks he is tough enough to beat up Bogart. That big guy in a little guy body seemed to fit him, so he was quickly named Cairo. He also occasionally goes by Mr. Cairo or Monsieur Fuzzypants.
Does Cairo do more to help or hinder your writing?
Cairo is my constant writing companion. He sleeps through most of the work, but at times will wake up long enough to listen to me talk to myself about what is happening in the book. It's also good that I need to go take him for a walk on a regular schedule as I get a lot of great ideas then.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?
There have always been a touch of every dog I've owned in every dog character that shows up in my work. For such small creatures they can take up huge amount of space in our lives.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Cairo loathes our mailman. It is not clear why, as the mailman is actually quite nice and on occasion has put dog treats through the mail slot in the door. Normally, Cairo's love can easily be bought with a treat, but he still refuses to forgive the mailman for his flagrant walking up to our house without being invited. I suspect if I opened the door Cairo would then hide behind me, because he is actually a big coward.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Cairo is a big fan of all his toys, but it is safe to say there are few things he loves more than disemboweling a fuzzy toy and removing the squeaker.
Who is Cairo's best pet-pal?
Cairo has a dog buddy named Ted. Ted is the furry equivalent of a frat boy. A bit wild, crazy and almost always a bad influence.
What is Cairo's best quality?
Cairo is a snuggler. If I ever sit down on the sofa or my favourite reading chair I can count on him to come and jump in my lap. He's also very quirky. For example, he hates when his kibble is mounded in his bowl. He will use his nose to smooth it all out until it is level. He can be very fussy.
If Cairo could change one thing about you, what would it be?
He would first make sure I never mounded his kibble as he's made it clear he doesn't like that. Cairo would also call me wimpy as when it is raining out I tend to be a fan of a short walk. He sees no reason we can't go for longer.
If Cairo could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
I would ask Cairo, out of all the things in our home, why as a puppy he had to chew my absolutely favourite pair of shoes. It took me awhile to forgive him for that one.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Cairo could speak, who should voice him?
The best person to voice Cairo would be Sean Connery. A tough guy, but with style. Also, for some reason, I have always imagined him with an accent. It suits him.
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The Page 69 Test: Year of Mistaken Discoveries.